Around two people every hour are diagnosed with Parkinson’s in the UK. And with over 145,000 individuals currently living with the illness, it is a disease that impacts many people and their families up and down the country.
Cera wants to raise awareness of Parkinson’s disease and especially draw attention the early symptoms of the illness. As specialists in Elderly Care and Live In Care, we know how beneficial an early diagnosis of Parkinson’s Disease can lead to a better quality of life for sufferers and their families.
But many of us lack confidence in our understanding of the disease, leading to difficulties in knowing how to spot the symptoms in a loved one and fear around how we could care for them.
According to our recent research, only 22% of people are confident that they would recognise the symptoms. Through this guide, we’re going to help correct any misconceptions.
Spotting the symptoms of Parkinson’s
The three main symptoms of Parkinson’s are:
– Involuntary shaking of particular body parts (tremor)
– Slowness of movement
– Muscle stiffness (rigidity)
These are by no means the only symptoms. Others can include:
– Balance problems, sometimes leading to falls
– Memory problems
– Anxiety and depression
– Difficulty sleeping and insomnia
– Loss of smell
Common confusion around symptoms
According to our research, we found some common confusions around symptoms in early stage Parkinson’s. They focussed on the following three things:
– Ability to complete day to day tasks
We found there is considerable confusion surrounding an ability to complete daily tasks for those in the early stages of Parkinson’s. Nearly two thirds of the people surveyed felt that even in the early stages, day to day tasks would become impossible.
This isn’t the case. At stage one, the symptoms will be mild such as tremors along one side of the body and shouldn’t affect the daily life of that person. Some daily tasks, such as eating and dressing may become a problem at stage three, but independent living is still possible until around stage four.
This is an important distinction, meaning that your loved one may still be in the early stages of the disease even if they can continue to cope with their daily lives. Symptoms you should be looking out for at the early stage include changes in walking, posture and facial expressions, as well as mild tremors along one side of the body.
According to our research, 47% of people were unable to recognise handwriting getting smaller as an early symptom of Parkinson’s.
In fact, this is quite common. This is called Micrographia and is where the handwriting becomes unusually small and cramped. It can happen quite quickly or progressively. Again, it’s an important symptom to spot in the early stages and could be vital in ensuring your loved one is diagnosed as early as possible.
This was an unknown symptom according to our research with over 50% of those surveyed unable to identify it as a symptom. Unfortunately, hallucinations are associated with the latter stages of Parkinson’s, although not in all cases.
Understanding Parkinson’s and who it affects
In order to potentially spot the early stages of Parkinson’s in a loved one, it’s key to understand exactly what the disease is. Again, there are a number of misconceptions in this area.
Parkinson’s disease is a progressive neurological condition caused by a loss of nerve cells in the brain, which results in a reduction of dopamine. Dopamine is essential in regulating the movement of the body.
Our research in this area, highlighted the following misconceptions:
– The relationship between Parkinson’s and dementia
– The age at which people begin to suffer from the disease
According to our research, one in six people believe that Parkinson’s and dementia are the same thing. Although they are closely related illnesses they are not the same. One in five also thought that Parkinson’s only impacts older people. Again, this is incorrect as it can occur at any age, although it is most common in the over 60s.
This is important to understand if you think your loved one is displaying some of the early symptoms.
Supporting a loved one
A key factor that was highlighted by our research in the area is the fact that a number of people (nearly 80%) lack the confidence in their ability to care for a loved one if they were diagnosed with Parkinson’s.
The most important things that you can do is to first educate yourself about the symptoms and stages that they may be going through and speak to their GP about how it is impacting your loved one specifically and the individual problems that they may be facing.
Our survey also highlighted the lack of confidence in knowing where to turn for help.
At Cera, we provide tailored home and live-in care for people with Parkinson’s. This means that your loved one can get the help and assistance that they need from the comfort of their own home. Specifically, tailored home care ensures that everything will be personal to their needs, with their professional career only assisting where it is required, helping your loved one to remain as independent as possible.
For more information about Parkinson’s disease, you can read our answers to your most frequently asked questions, and you can learn more about care with Cera.